Victories

Yesterday I turned 30. Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. 

I had a wonderful birthday, but today’s ruling makes me happier than a million birthdays. This is a victory for our country. It’s not just about weddings; it’s about hospital visitation rights, last wishes, custody, and many, many other important rights. 

I’m overjoyed that as I enter my next decade, we’re that much better. 

June’s Project: More Dresses (An Update)

I am absolutely determined to finish this dress before the end of the month. It will get done. 

 

Butterick 5554, view A

It’s a knit pattern, which means it’s OBNOXIOUS AS HELL. I have not mastered the wily ways of knit the way I’ve mastered the simple, non-stretchy proclivities of woven. This dress also has a zipper in the back, which should be interesting. 

I’m making view A, the sleeveless version. And of course, I’m making it in leopard print (the middle section) and jade (the outer sections). I showed the fabric to Mr. Something and he said, “Well, that’s perfect for you.” This is something that I love about sewing my own clothes; I can make them in my size and in my favorite colors. 

I hope (hope hope hope) to have this done by this weekend so I can wear it out. Photos to come! 

Vision (and Naked Burritos)

I’ve had glasses for almost 28 years. I turn 30 in two weeks. I cannot comprehend only needing glasses sometimes or losing a pair. It’s pretty impossible to lose glasses when you only take them off to sleep and shower. 

I wore my glasses on my wedding day, to the consternation of a few people who told me to get contacts because it would look better in the photos. Well. My husband wore his glasses at our wedding and no one thought that was weird. 

I’m getting new frames today and I’m nervous about it. I can’t see myself without my glasses so I basically only exist when I have them on. They are a huge part of my identity. I hope I like what I see when I put on my new face. 

Pretend this is a segue because it’s before 9am and you should be nice to me. Naked burritos! I threw these together the other day when I couldn’t get out to the store and needed to make something relatively good. They turned out wonderfully and are now on our regular rotation. 

Naked Burritos

For chicken filling

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast (if you use two, double the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 little can Hatch chiles
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 1C chicken stock
  • 1T taco seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For burrito bowl

  • Hot cooked rice
  • Shredded Mexican cheese 
  • Chopped avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce

Place the chicken breast in the slow cooker. Top with beans, tomatoes, chiles, and taco seasoning. Blend chicken stock with chipotle in adobo until smooth and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and mix with sauce. 

Scoop rice in a bowl, then top with chicken and other desired burrito toppings. 

May’s Project: Dresses (Another Update)

Guys. This dress is proving to be pretty annoying. Bias tape can bite me, and sewing buttons is the worst. 

I might not get it completely done by the end of this month, but it’ll get done eventually. Ugh. 

The other thing I worked on this month was an adorable tiny tutu for my friend’s 3-year-old daughter. It is so itty-bitty! Working with tulle is heinous, but once I figured out that it’s a pain, it got slightly easier. Just another thing to add to my sewing resume. 

There’s another dress pattern I want to tackle… once I find it in my sewing table monstrosity. 

The Perfect Amount of Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  
I’ve shared my chocolate chip cookie recipe before, but I just updated it and HOLY CRAP throw that one out the window and only make this one from now on. Unless you’re allergic to coconut. Then delicately step around the broken glass and retrieve the original recipe. 

The new recipe is exactly the same except for one thing: I substituted half the butter for coconut oil. That’s it. It adds a touch of coconutty loveliness and makes the cookies spread out like you’re frickin Mrs. Fields. Make these now. 

The Perfect Amount of Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3C coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 3/8C white sugar
  • 3/8C brown sugar
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1 egg

Cream that together (I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer).

  • 1 1/8C flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt

Add to the creamed mixture and mix until it forms a dough. Don’t overmix!

  • 1C chocolate chips (or mini peanut butter cups, or butterscotch chips, or chopped up Heath bar)

Add and mix until the chips are combined.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 9-11 minutes. Cool on racks (or devour at your own risk).

May’s Project: Update

I’ve been battling a spring cold, so I haven’t been super productive the past few days. Despite that, I’ve managed to put together my dress!

For my first dress, I’m making a Butterick pattern from 1952. It slips on over your head, and the back skirt pulls forward to snap at the bodice. It gives the effect of a sheath and overskirt. It’s so cute.

I had to learn how to sew darts, those lines sewn into clothes to give them shape; in this case, boob-shape and waist-shape. This tutorial was very helpful! 

The rest of the sewing has been very easy, which matches up with the “Very Easy” labeling on the pattern. Slightly curved seams and straight seams. Piece of cake.

The next thing I did was… take (nearly) the entire thing apart. I slipped the dress over my head and tried to close the front, but it wasn’t overlapping enough to add the snaps or be worn comfortably. I took the skirt off the bodice and separated the two skirt sections, then cut a small piece of fabric and added another panel to the skirt. If you’ve got a big booty and wide ribs, sometimes you need to swallow your pride and make your dress bigger. Whatever. It fits really well now!

The next step is to hem the skirt and add the bias tape. I’m holding off on this for a few days because I’m waiting on the delivery of my new narrow hem foot. It should make hemming a breeze. 

More updates soon!

May’s Project: Dresses

I thought it would take me the majority of the year to build my skills to Dressmaker Level. However, I think I found a pattern or two that I can try now (even though it’s not May yet). 

My first attempt is Butterick 4790. It’s a retro pattern from 1952! I love retro dresses, and ones from the ’50s usually have just the right shape for my curves. This dress is really neat; it goes over your head and then the back snaps at the front waist, creating a sheath and overskirt look. 

Of course, I chose bright, bold fabrics because I can’t bring myself to wear neutral colors. 
 

The feathery fabric (L) will be the back and overskirt; the floral will be the bodice and front skirt.

Yeah. I like color. 

I cut my pieces out today. There are only three pattern pieces (a total of four fabric pieces) to this dress, so they are all huge and obnoxious to cut. Tomorrow I’m going to tackle darting! Stay tuned. 

Watch out! (and Homemade Ice Cream)

Guys, there’s lots of listeria out there right now. Blue Bell has recalled all of their products, as has Jeni’s. You’ve got to watch your back out there, and you shouldn’t have to worry that your ice cream is going to kill you. 

Solution: make your own. It’s so, so good, and it’s virtually limitless. 

Homemade Ice Cream

  • 2C heavy cream (yes, it’s full of fat–eat it)
  • 1C whole milk
  • 2/3C sugar
  • 1/8t salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Vanilla bean or vanilla extract

Heat cream, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s steaming, but not bubbling at all. (You can scrape the inside of a vanilla bean in there and throw in the pod, or use 2t-1T of vanilla extract.) Get a bowl and whip the yolks until they lighten in color. Slowly whisk and add a little bit of the hot cream into the yolks until about 1/3-1/2 of the cream is in with the eggs. Slowly pour the yolk/cream mixture back into the saucepan and mix. 

Heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens quite a bit. You’re making a custard here, if you hadn’t figured that out, so as the eggs cook, the ice cream base will get nice and thick. It should coat a spoon when it’s ready. 

Remove the pan from the heat and let it hang out for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into a big container (used sour cream or yogurt containers work well) and refrigerate until very cold. I usually make the base in the morning and churn it in the afternoon. 

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions until it looks like soft serve. Spoon back into your container and freeze. Homemade ice cream is a lot harder than store-bought, so take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you want to eat it. 

Variations:

  • Substitute almond extract for the vanilla and add 2t cinnamon. Steep 30 minutes, then strain. 
  • Add bottled hot fudge or caramel during churning. 
  • Chop up some leftover birthday cake and add during churning. This is my favorite variation. I did this with the leftover cake we had from our top tier. Use any leftover frosting instead of the 2/3C sugar. So. Good. 
  • Add booze! This will make your ice cream softer. Rum + cinnamon vanilla ice cream = BOOZY MILKSHAKE MATERIAL. 

Vanity Sizing and Realism

I’m a curvy gal. My hips are 42″ and my waist is 30″–so Sir Mix-a-Lot would have a lot to say about me. Lady Bootyton, at your service. 

I own a lot of size 4 dresses from Dress Barn. They fit perfectly. I’m a big fan of The Barn, despite their weird name. Cute shit, reasonable prices, and I get to say I’m a size 4. 

That’s the problem. The fabric store had a pattern sale a few weeks ago and I got a really cute “very easy” retro pattern from 1952. I opened it up today so I could figure it out and see how much fabric I need since I have a coupon. WELL. According to the eminent minds at Butterick, I’m a size 14. Fourteen. Ten numbers bigger than my usual Barn size. I’m starting to understand that whole “Marilyn Monroe would be plus-sized now” thing, even though that’s sort of nonsense. Her waist was smaller than mine, but my hips are bigger. (That was me bragging, by the way.)

But Jeezum crow, guys, what the hell? Yes yes yes it’s just a number, but why in the fuck are these two numbers SO DIFFERENT? Oh, I know, because we (Americans/Westerners) have an obsession with thinness (or the illusion of thinness) and body control. I knew that the size 4 label at Dress Barn was vanity sizing but I was completely ignorant of just how vain their sizing is. 

Let me be clear: I’m a huge fan of my body. My curves are awesome. I’m built like a very short pinup peasant from the Old Country. Wide and short, that’s me! It’s taken me years to get comfortable with myself, and it feels wonderful. And you know what I’d love? If our culture embraced this body positivity and just put the correct damn numbers on our clothes. Or do it like the industry does for men: measurements. My husband’s jeans literally say the size of his waist on them. Why can’t we have that too? Like, oh, I wear a size 30 waist/42 hip jean. 

Basically, let’s love ourselves and be honest with ourselves. Love those inches on your hips, love the width of your ribs, love your thick thighs. (Or tiny thighs!) Don’t let yourself get bummed when you look at your pattern chart and see a double-digit number. 

Vanity sizing doesn’t accomplish anything other than very superficially making you feel better for reasons that make no sense. Our standard of beauty should not be based on a dumb clothing tag. You know what they say in Botswana as a compliment? “You’re looking very fat today!” That is lovely. 

In conclusion: you’re gorgeous and I’m a size 14. 

Curvily yours,

Amanda K.